What I Learned About Customer Experience from ‘Steve Jobs Second Coming’



  • A bespoke approach. Jobs’ dedication to creating unique call center experiences highlights the importance of brand-building innovation in the CX space.
  • Launch FaceTime. Jobs has the tenacity to fight for seemingly impossible ideas.
  • A faster experience. Jobs focused on prioritizing customer needs and expectations over technology alone.

Editor’s Note: The Steve Jobs Archive will release “Make Something Wonderful”, a curated collection of Steve’s speeches, interviews and letters, for free on April 11th.

Shortly before turning 30, he moved back to his hometown of Austin, Texas after fulfilling his dream of making music in Los Angeles. When he was rediscovering one of his favorite cities, he went to one of his great local clubs and a friend said, ‘You should apply to Apple. It’s from,” he told me.

Contact center opportunities await

My first reaction was that I didn’t want to work in a call center…who does? The problem is that I haven’t used his Mac in nearly 20 years. So I borrowed an iMac and taught myself as much as I could over the weekend before my big interview. The recruitment process included both technical assessments and face-to-face interviews. I was sure I failed the technical evaluation, but they saw something in me and offered me a chance.

That decision changed my life. This was in the late 1990s, shortly after the late Steve Jobs was reinstated as his Apple CEO, when the iMac was first released. I worked hard and found it rewarding to help everyday people solve their problems, so I climbed the corporate ladder and moved to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, where he became the brand’s service and support arm. led AppleCare’s global support program.

The wisdom I got from Jobs, then-COO, current CEO Tim Cook, and Apple in general changed my professional life so much that it’s hard to imagine where I would be without it. . And at this juncture in history of ongoing economic uncertainty, as artificial intelligence (AI) seeks to reshape how we buy goods and services, how we communicate and work, Jobs’ UX and CX lessons: It definitely wasn’t that important.

With that in mind, here are three stories the CX space can learn from the days of Job’s “second coming” at Apple.

CX for iPhone 1.0

When the first iPhone was launched in 2007, Apple already had popular products like the iPod (released in 2001) and the MacBook (2006). While all of us at Jobs and Apple knew the iPhone was a different level of fork than past product launches, we created a dedicated, bespoke call center to improve CX for smartphone customers. It was his idea to

Jobs also wanted to keep callers from going through an interactive voice response (IVR) system. He wanted an Apple representative to answer each phone with a few rings. He recommended it to us but we convinced him it was too expensive and finally he used IVR.

But his desire to build a bespoke contact center to reduce wait times shows how important brands have been to him, and the need for companies across industries to innovate while building brands. indicates that there is He wanted and got a differentiated calling experience to build the iPhone brand. Apple gave their customers a great experience. It wasn’t the last time contact centers were at the center of his CX innovations at Apple.

Related article: Exploring the intersection of user experience and customer experience

FaceTime for everyone — at launch!

I will never forget the days leading up to the iPhone 4 launch in June 2010, when Apple first offered FaceTime functionality. Jobs wanted all iPhone 4 customers to be able to make FaceTime calls as soon as he bought them, but most customers don’t have friends to call who have the new technology. This seemed impossible.

But he argued that iPhone customers deserve the surprise and joy of the first video calls right away. At that point, the AppleCare department fully embraced his focus. A dedicated 300 person contact center unit was installed for the launch. The staff also wore T-shirts made for the event.

We only had two weeks to set it all up. And we pulled it off!

Jobs showed us that some ideas are worth fighting for. Also, if you ask his colleague to do something that seems impossible, he will surprise even himself. If you ask any of my leaders and teammates over the years, they’ll tell you that all of it sounds a lot like me, having absorbed the job mindset at Apple.

Related article: Call centers: what you can do to meet customer expectations

Faster CX

I was deeply involved in the outcome, and I recall a story from Walter Isaacson’s great book, Steve Jobs. Jobs challenged engineers to shave 10 seconds off his original Macintosh computer startup time in the early 1980s. Jobs taunted the engineer by saying: The engineer said he would try.

After two weeks, he reduced boot time by 28 seconds instead of 10 seconds. Again, Job’s focus (sometimes described as tenacity) helped the team achieve his unlikely goals in the name of UX and CX.

This anecdote shows that CX leaders need to think like customers, not technologists. What do customers want from this experience? Brands should have technology built with their needs in mind. This allows you to deliver the type of speed and experience your customers expect, whether via chatbot or phone.

What I finally learned about Apple’s CX

Finally, when I applied for a call center job at Apple over 20 years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into or what the brand would look like. But the culture that Jobs established was very important to me developing my customer-centric leadership skills.

And in today’s complex world with so much going on, I hope his UX and CX lessons will help you too.


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